Public service media in Central Europe reflect growing populism in the region but are not the cause of it. That’s the view of New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, who was recently in Prague. Thompson shared his views on the media landscape in this region with Czech Radio’s Lenka Kabrhelová – and also explained a move to end Czech language broadcasting while he was director-general of the BBC.
Elena Gorolová, a Roma social worker from the north Moravian city of Ostrava, has been included on an annual BBC list of 100 inspirational and influential women for 2018. The BBC highlighted Ms Gorolová’s campaign against forced sterilisation as well as her work to return institutionalised children to their birth families.
Sir John Tusa anchored the top UK current affairs show Newsnight in the 1980s before heading the BBC World Service for seven years. Though today a member of the British establishment, he was actually born in Czechoslovakia and moved to England as a small child, when his father, Jan Tůša, was appointed head of UK operations of the Baťa shoe company.
As controller of BBC World Service English, Mary Hockaday is one of the most senior executives at the globe’s biggest radio station. When she was in Prague last week for a recording of the debate show World Questions, I asked Hockaday about various aspects of the World Service’s role and today’s media landscape. But the conversation began with her years here in the Czech capital in the early 1990s, when she was the BBC’s correspondent in the city.
During WWII, the London-based Czechoslovak government in exile had only one method of communicating regularly with its people at home: over the airwaves of the BBC. To discuss the content of these programmes, ministers’ broadcasting skills, coded messages to the resistance and much more, I recently caught up with academic Erica Harrison, who has conducted ground-breaking research into the subject. My first question: How much broadcasting did the exile government actually do?
One of the early atrocities of World War Two was the violent suppression of protests by Czech university students on 28 October 1939. This was just over six months after German troops had marched into Prague. One student was killed and three weeks later a further nine were executed. Twelve hundred more were sent to concentration camps. The news caused outrage in countries fighting Nazi Germany and 17 November was declared International Students’ Day. With the help of staff from the Czech Radio archive, David Vaughan and students from the Anglo-American
Public television and radio broadcasters have seen their traditional dominance in delivering news and entertainment crumble in the new multimedia, multi-platform environment. And the challenge is not just coming from local commercial rivals but also big global players entering the media arena. Public broadcasters from across Europe got together last week in Prague to take stock of where they are on the market and where they should be going.
A few years ago several boxes of wartime radio recordings from London were found lying forgotten in an attic at the Czech Foreign ministry. Some are in English and some in Czech, many of them are broadcasts produced by the BBC, others by the Czechoslovak government in exile as part of the fight against Nazi Germany on the airwaves. Radio archivists are gradually working through the material and already some fascinating recordings have turned up. They include a completely forgotten radio play by František Langer who was one of the best known playwrights
Despite tough going in the actual arena on the first day, the Czech Olympic team scored fashion points at the start of the London games on Friday with original and witty uniforms. The 133 athletes appeared during the opening ceremony wearing blue and white suits topped off with wellington boots and parasols. While ‘wellies’ trended high on Twitter throughout the evening, the New York Times summarised the fashion spectacle as ‘Lauren vs. Rubber Wellies’ – comparing the Czech accessory to the US team’s, reportedly ‘controversial’, choice of berets and blazers by Ralph Lauren. BBC commentators themselves were also amused at the fashion quip on English weather.